Whew. The U.S. Supreme Court declined today to take up a case from Indiana attempting to roll back the rights of same-sex parents. From Slate:
Box v. Henderson involves eight married lesbian couples in Indiana who conceived through artificial insemination. When a married opposite-sex couple uses a sperm donor, the birth mother’s husband is listed as the father on their child’s birth certificate. Genetics alone does not determine parenthood in the state. When married same-sex couples used a sperm donor, however, Indiana officials refused to identify the birth mother’s wife as the child’s second parent. Instead, they insisted that this spouse undergo stepparent adoption, an invasive, lengthy, and expensive process.
In 2014, the lesbian couples sued the state to place their names on their children’s birth certificates. A federal judge sided with the plaintiffs in 2016, but Indiana appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. After a mysterious 32-month delay, the 7th Circuit affirmed the judge’s decision. It noted that the Supreme Court already settled this issue twice. First, in 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges, the court compelled states to provide same-sex couples with the “constellation of benefits” linked to marriage, explicitly mentioning birth certificates. Then, in 2017’s Pavan v. Smith, the court reiterated that states must place same-sex parents on their child’s birth certificate if that benefit is provided to opposite-sex parents who lack genetic ties to their child.
As we noted previously, Pavan v. Smith is an Arkansas case where the Supreme Court gave a presumption of parenthood to women parents after it had been denied by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
There was fear the U.S. Supreme Court, with new members appointed by Donald Trump, might be prepared to roll back the sweeping equal rights granted same-sex couples under Obergfell. It’s at least some good news. Slate said:
Monday’s decision can be read two different ways. First, it might indicate that the conservative bloc has little appetite to take aim at Obergefell. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas recently expressed their disdain for that decision, suggesting that it should be circumscribed or overturned. Notably, though, no other conservative joined their call to arms. These justices are clearly interested in authorizing discrimination against LGBTQ people in the name of religious liberty. For instance, they may soon compel Philadelphia to fund a foster care agency that won’t work with same-sex couples. But even if the conservative justices grant businesses and government contractors a constitutional right to discriminate against gay people, they might not bring back overt restrictions on same-sex couples’ right to marry and raise children.